Augusta County schools 10-year construction and closing plan

David KaraffaBy David Karaffa
Supervisor, Beverley Manor District, Augusta County

On Monday, August 25th, the Augusta County School Board presented the Board of Supervisors with their adopted 10-year capital/ construction/ school closure plan. The plan which was sent out weeks prior to the meeting is about 100 pages long and covers everything from technology, infrastructure, building repair and upgrade, to new construction, redistricting, and school closure.

The plan calls for the construction of a new Riverheads Elementary School (RES) on land next to the current RES to be completed and opened in 2016. Almost at the same time it calls for the construction of a new Cassell Elementary School that would open in 2017. These two construction projects would allow for Beverley Manor Elementary and Verona Elementary to be closed in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Verona Elementary children would be sent to Clymore, Cassell, and Churchville elementary schools while Beverley Manor Elementary children would be sent to the new Riverheads Elementary. Some Clymore students would be sent to North River Elementary to make room for Verona children.

The plan also includes middle school wings at Riverheads High and Buffalo Gap High which would bring Beverley Manor Middle to closure. This is not planned until 2023.

The plan’s goal is to take the savings from the closure of these schools and build up their capital account to continue with county wide school improvements including replacing chillers, boilers, and roofs at our other existing buildings. It also allows funds for upgrading and maintaining their technology infrastructure.

The Board of Supervisors was not asked to endorse the plan, and many of the supervisors had questions, comments, and concerns with many parts. Eric Bond, the superintendent of Augusta County School, stated, “Its not a perfect plan, its a working plan, a document for reference, and we will be revisiting it every year as we progress.”

Mr. Bond also stated that the plan was written in a “Bookshelf Ready” format so that any parent could go in, ask for a copy, and understand it without a lot of additional explanation.

My comment to the plan had two overall points. First, the plan calls for the closure of two elementary schools (Beverley Manor and Verona Elementary) that serve the majority of the kids in my district. This brings me to my second point: the school board states in their plan that they will do a boundary line or redistricting plan; however, they are not willing to do this before starting construction on the new and much bigger Riverheads Elementary School. To me this seems to put the cart before the horse. I would like to see the results of a redistricting plan that includes the new Riverheads and closed Beverley Manor in order to give folks the ability to see the impact on them and their children. Folks need the ability to see the plan and comment on it before we build a new school.

I encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about this plan and how it may affect your family to ask for a copy of it from the Augusta County School Board at the Government Center in Verona. I also have a copy that I can speak with you about. As always if you have any questions or comments about this issue or any other, please feel free to contact me at DavidKaraffa@comcast.net and we can set up a time to sit down. I hope you have found this article helpful. Thank you.

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